Wednesday, December 6, 2023

Destiny back in business

Operates with new bank accounts; no govt action to stop controversial MLM business
The government’s lenient attitude towards Destiny, a controversial multilevel marketing (MLM) company, has allowed the firm to resume its operation 10 months after the central bank froze its bank accounts. The MLM company resumed its business last month by opening bank accounts against individuals with different commercial banks, as the company’s bank accounts have remained frozen since May last year.
“Destiny could not restart business as its bank accounts were frozen. However, the firm resumed business last month with some new bank accounts. The company transacts mostly in cash,” said a profit sharing distributor, known as PSD, at Destiny 2000.
Afsarul Amin, nephew of Destiny mastermind Rafiqul Amin, is now leading Destiny 2000 in the absence of his uncle, who is now in prison on charges of money laundering. Afsarul is also a shareholder of Destiny 2000.
Bangladesh Bank froze 196 bank accounts of the Group’s 33 firms out of 37, and 265 bank accounts of its directors and the company’s sister concerns. A total of Tk 132.71 crore was found in the bank accounts of 33 firms and another Tk 57.33 crore in the directors’ accounts.
Destiny’s bank accounts were frozen for one month in May for the first time under the money laundering act. Later, the period was extended thrice and the accounts still remain frozen.
Debaprosad Debnath, general manager of Financial Intelligence Unit of BB, confirmed that Destiny’s accounts are still frozen.
“Destiny cannot open any accounts against its name. If it is running business through any bank account, it must have opened that in a different name,” said Debaprosad.
The commerce ministry carried out a probe into Destiny’s activities in February last year and found evidence of money laundering by the Group.
In its report in October last year, the probe committee said it found no trace of Tk 3,800 crore, and suggested that the government confiscate Destiny’s properties so that it can compensate the stakeholders of the MLM company.
“We have made recommendations based on our probe. And we are now waiting for the government’s decision,” said Bijon Kumar Baishya, registrar of Joint Stock Companies and Firms.
“The government seems to be lenient in acting against Destiny. We cannot say that the MLM company’s activities are illegal unless the government makes any decision in this regard,” said a member of the probe body formed by the commerce ministry.
He said the commerce secretary called a meeting in December last year to discuss the Destiny issue with them. But since then, no further talks or meetings were held on the issue.
In a report in March last year, the central bank said Destiny Multipurpose Cooperative Society, a sister concern of Destiny Group, had collected nearly Tk 2,000 crore in deposits and share capital from people till December 31, 2011.
The BB found that Tk 5,132.46 crore was deposited in 282 bank accounts of the Group’s three firms — Destiny 2000 Ltd, Destiny Multipurpose Cooperative Society Ltd and Destiny Tree Plantation. Later, Tk 5,113.95 crore was withdrawn.
In another inquiry into the activities of Destiny’s cooperative wing, the Department of Cooperatives (DoC) found that 14 Destiny high-ups plundered Tk 1,448 crore.
According to cooperative laws, the persons found involved in the irregularities have to return the money to the Destiny Multipurpose Cooperative Society Ltd or else they will face charges that could lead to imprisonment up to three years or a fine or both.
Amiya Kumar Chattopadhyay, additional registrar and head of the DoC probe committee, said they have almost completed gathering all details on the liabilities of Destiny high-ups.
Commerce Secretary Mahbub Ahmed said, “We will finalise the MLM laws soon. We are a bit late because the officer, who is in charge of it, fell sick.”
In reply to a query, the secretary told The Daily Star that there was no development in appointing administrator in Destiny as decided earlier by the government.
Afsarul Amin could not be reached over the phone despite repeated attempts.

Courtesy of The Daily Star

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